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China said to step up mortgage controls to cool home prices

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 13:06
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China's government is stepping up efforts to contain runaway property prices, with the central bank clamping down further on mortgage lending in areas deemed overheated, people with knowledge of the matter said.

[BEIJING] China's government is stepping up efforts to contain runaway property prices, with the central bank clamping down further on mortgage lending in areas deemed overheated, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Some lenders in those cities have been asked to suspend distributing new home loans, said the people, who asked not to be named as the change hasn't been made public. 

Central bank branches in the cities communicated verbally with lenders within their jurisdictions, said the people, who didn't identify the affected cities or say how long the mortgage limits will last.

Banks in Shanghai were told not to increase mortgage lending from the previous month, another person with knowledge of the matter said. The central bank didn't respond to questions sent Monday via fax.

The latest mortgage limits come amid signs that China's central government is intensifying curbs to rein in excessive home prices, after relying on local authorities to tighten rules in some two dozen cities since late September.

Shanghai, which already imposed restrictions earlier this year, said in a Weibo post on Monday that it will tighten mortgage loan policies starting Nov 29, while Tianjin has raised minimum mortgage down payments for first homes to at least 30 per cent.

"China's policy orientation has been much less accommodative, and the theme for next year will be a year of bubble deflating," said Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore.

Surging Prices

The banking regulator earlier this month told lenders in 16 cities to conduct checks on their mortgage lending, including in first-tier hubs like Beijing and Shenzhen. Trust firms were also told to review any business related to home lending.

A wave of Chinese cities from trading centres to regional hubs had their largest price surge in history this year. Even after tightened purchase restrictions, Anhui provincial capital Hefei saw average new-home values rallying 48 percent in October from a year earlier, while prices jumped 31 per cent and 32 per cent in financial hubs Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Local authorities have introduced home-market curbs ranging from raising down-payment requirements for both first and second homes, to ruling some potential buyers ineligible.

The curbs mark a reversal of expanding stimulus in China, where outstanding personal home mortgages swelled 35 per cent to 16.8 trillion yuan in the year ended Sept 30. More than 40 per cent of the nation's new credit went to property-related loans in the first nine months, the central bank said in its quarterly monetary report.

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